By Will Hansen
Often, the preventive services we offer as pest management professionals are perceived as the sole solutions to our clients’ current pest issues. This should not always be the case; I look at the services we provide as, foremost, informational, then preventive and finally curative. One of the ways we have found to make this point to our clients is to focus on the monitoring aspects of our regular preventive service visits, which may or may not escalate into curative services.
One of the challenges we face with rodent bait station monitoring — and all of our services, for that matter — is educating the client so that they understand what is completed during regular service visits. If a client is not educated as to the specifics of what was accomplished during service visits, they might be less prone to cooperate in resolving conditions conducive to pest activity. They also might question your role as their PMP, as doubt is cast about the duration or the value of your services. Client education is vital to any pest management effort.
A simple way to address this issue and make monitoring efforts more effective is to be thorough in reporting ALLpest findings and possible conditions conducive to pest activity to the client. This often can be tedious when reporting in high pest-pressured locations, but that makes it that much more valuable to the client-PMP relationship. If our clients know exactly what our findings are, they (1) will see the value we offer in addressing and resolving their pest concerns, (2) probably won’t question the time spent at the service location and (3) will more than likely join the offensive to correct any conditions that might lead to future pest concerns. Ultimately, thorough reporting leads to well-educated, happy clients.
Another issue that PMPs see, particularly when it comes to rodent bait stations, is the consumption of rodent baits by non-target species. When bait stations are opened, we all too frequently see non-targets in the process of consuming the bait. Other times when stations are opened, we find the remnants of what is left by the non-targets (e.g., roach feces, leftover piles of seeds from insect feeding, bird droppings or roach oothecae). One of the tricks that I use to combat non-target feeding is to place bait blocks in plastic jewelry bags or sandwich bags. This not only protects bait from melting in the summer heat or getting soaked in irrigation water but also drastically reduces non-target feeding and provides us with the ability to gauge the extent of any rodent activity at our bait stations. This is extremely helpful if clients have not seen a rodent in their facility or feel the need to cancel a rodent program due to lack of rodents.
Finally, monitoring bait stations presents us with the challenge of determining how much pest activity has taken place since our last service visit. A few helpful tips to make this seemingly impossible task possible follow:
- Make sure bait stations are cleaned of debris, webs, feces, etc., on every service visit.
- Replace rodent bait after any amount of feeding activity.
- Move each device and check underneath for non-target pests.
- Report all findings and conditions conducive to pest activity (big or small) to the customer.
These tips will help you maximize the effectiveness of your monitoring program and build a relationship of trust and proactive cooperation between PMP and client. It can be argued that defense wins ball games, but in the game of pest management, including rodent monitoring and, more importantly customer service, offense is always the winning strategy.
The author is CEO and owner of H&H Pest Management, St.George, Utah. He founded H&H in 2009. Learn more at www.hhpest.com.
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